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Nation in brief: War dead are ‘awesome bunch,’ Bush says

President Bush paid tribute Monday to America’s fighting men and women who died in battle, saying national leaders must have “the courage and character to follow their lead” in preserving peace and freedom.

“On this Memorial Day, I stand before you as the commander in chief and try to tell you how proud I am,” Bush told an audience of military figures, veterans and their families at Arlington National Cemetery. Of the men and women buried in the hallowed cemetery, he said, “They’re an awesome bunch of people and the United States is blessed to have such citizens.”

That provoked a standing ovation from the crowd in a marble amphitheater where Bush spoke.

Bush and his wife, Laura, traveled from the White House across the Potomac River to the rolling hillsides of Arlington. Along the way, one man stood with a sign that said: “Bring Our Troops Home.” Otherwise, the presidential motorcade on a sparkling clear spring day was warmly greeted at the cemetery entrance by scores of people, including two men in hats, shirts and shorts made out of American flag material. Others visited gravesites where each white tombstone was marked with a tiny American flag.

New Haven, Conn.

It’s Dr. McCartney, thanks to Yale

Paul McCartney can add one more honor to the numerous awards, accolades and the knighthood he has already received.

The ex-Beatle on Monday was awarded an honorary doctor of music degree by Yale University.

In granting the honorary degree to McCartney, the university said no one compares with the legendary songwriter. Yale said the 65-year-old McCartney awakened a generation, giving a fresh sound to rock and roll and to rhythm and blues. A band played “Hey Jude,” a Beatles hit, as McCartney walked on stage to accept the degree.

New Haven was the site of a British invasion of sorts on Sunday, as McCartney and former Prime Minister Tony Blair were in town for Yale’s 307th commencement. Blair’s eldest son, Euan, is completing a two-year master’s program in international relations, and the former prime minister, who is to teach a course in the fall, gave a speech Sunday to Yale students on foreign relations.

Charlotte, N.C.

Child bolts in park, falls to death

A 2-year-old boy was killed over the weekend when he pulled away from his mother’s hand and fell about 100 feet off a cliff at a North Carolina state park, officials said.

Giovani Chavez, of Spartanburg, S.C., ran under a boardwalk railing and fell Saturday at Chimney Rock State Park, state parks spokesman Charlie Peek told the Charlotte Observer.

“She was on the dangerous side of the trail,” Peek said of the mother. “She was holding her child’s hand and that’s exactly what we would recommend: Just watch them every minute and hold on to them every minute.”

Trail maps at the park advise parents not to bring small children on the Skyline Trail because of the steep cliffs.


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